The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

April 29, 2012

I was proud to be part of it

By Kelly Kazek
kelly@athensnews-courier.com

— It was both heartbreaking and heartwarming to see the large turnout at a tornado remembrance event Friday, the anniversary of the terrible April 27, 2011, outbreak.

In attendance were the families of the four people killed that day – Janice and Glen Riddle, Jan Turner McElyea and Shannon Sampson. Renee Stubblefield, Jan McElyea’s cousin, brought people to tears with her rendition of “Amazing Grace,” and some family members joined in the singing.

It was a beautiful and heart-wrenching moment.

But families who lost loved ones on April 3, 1974, also were in attendance. The children and grandchildren of Hetty Ruth McGlocklin, who died that day along with her children Walter McGlocklin Jr. and Sandra McGlocklin, came to see the planned design of a memorial to be built at Bethel Cemetery on U.S. 72 in honor of the at least 30 people who have died in Limestone County since 1900.

I am proud to serve on the committee that is helping make the memorial a reality and I wanted to thank everyone who was instrumental in the plan. Al and Matt Burns of Precision Masonry have played a large part in the design and are donating many hours to the building of the memorial. The United Way and the Limestone County Long-Term Recovery Committee, as well as the Rotary Club, have pledged funds to build the memorial.

Members of the Tornado Remembrance and Awareness Committee who worked on the design and helped plan Friday’s event include Rebekah Davis; Tanjie Schrimsher, a cousin of Jan McElyea; Karen Middleton; Teresa Montgomery, the niece of Janice and Glen Riddle; Lora Scripps; Lynne Hart; Kim Troupe; Susan Nelson; Alissa Clark; and Gail Bergeron.

These are people who felt it was important not only to remember our neighbors who died but to thank all those who came to our aid in the wake of tornadoes and who helped us rebuild.

The memorial will have a base in the shape of Limestone County, which will be etched with the names of those who died, and the dates of each tornado. Walls along its side will be made from bricks that came from homes and churches that were destroyed on April 27. A bronze plaque will explain the reasons for the memorial and will be a testament to the resilience of Limestone Countians. 

At the end of Friday’s ceremony, people impacted by the storms were asked to lay a ceremonial brick at the corner of the memorial site.

In addition to those who lost family members on April 27, many others lined up to symbolically take part in building the memorial.

Kim Troupe and Vickie Fuqua, who also lost family members in 1974, came to lay bricks.

Members of Bethel Church of Christ and Lakeview Methodist Church, both destroyed on April 27, laid bricks.

First responders laid bricks.

County and city workers laid bricks.

Law officers laid bricks.

Red Cross members laid bricks.

One brick at a time, Limestone Countians demonstrated their will to go on, despite terrible losses.

I was proud to be part of it.